RDA approves $2.8 million request for Trine project

FORT WAYNE — The board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) unanimously approved a recommendation for $2.8 million in funding Tuesday for Trine University’s Thunder Ice Arena and MTI Center.

The RDA is responsible for distributing $42 million in funds granted to the region through Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative, established last year. The recommendation now goes to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) for review and final approval, which is expected within 30 days.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from the many area community leaders, organizations and municipalities who have seen the value of this project, particularly the city of Angola, members of our board of trustees, our state legislators and Parkview Health,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine president. “The Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority’s support of the Thunder Ice Area and MTI Center is an affirmation of the improvements these buildings will bring to the quality of place and quality of life for the city of Angola, Steuben County and northeast Indiana.”

The university had sought $3.8 million in funding at the board’s May meeting, but had been asked by the RDA to amend its request. KPC Media Group reports Bob Marshall, vice chair of the board, expressed appreciation for the university’s willingness to modify its request.

The $2.8 million in funding represents about 15 percent of the total $18.9 million cost of the project. The university already has $12.5 million pledged toward the project in private donations, and is receiving $1.4 million in gifts-in-kind — including streets, rights-of-way, sidewalks and storm drainage — from the city of Angola.

The RDA board also approved a recommendation for $2.8 million in funding for St. Francis University’s downtown campus by a 4-1 vote.

“The projects brought forward by the University of Saint Francis and Trine University are two very strong projects that directly advance the Road to One Million plan. These are exactly the kind of innovative projects for which the Regional Cities Initiative is designed. We are creating a place people want to live and work. These projects serve as the catalyst we need to spur development in our regional downtowns,” said RDA board chairman Jeff Turner, senior vice president of Metal Technologies.

The purpose of the Regional Cities Initiative funding is to attract and retain talent by providing financial support for projects that will increase economic growth, lead to population growth and enhance the region’s national brand identity. Northeast Indiana won the Regional Cities grant last year with its Road to One Million Plan, which outlines more than 70 projects and $1.5 billion in investment over the next 10 years.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, which helped lead the effort to secure the Regional Cities Initiative funding, also provides staffing support to the RDA.

“As we look to attract more talent and support our mission to increase educational attainment to reach the Big Goal, it is critical to work collaboratively with our regional universities,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “If we are committed to tripling our population growth rate over the next few years, we need these types of tenacious projects to get us there.”

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